Trustees on the School District 72 Board of Education will be receiving a modest raise.
The chair of the board will receive $13,751 next year, the vice chair will receive $12,245 and the rest of the trustees will receive $11,474 next year. The raise is based on a formula created by an independent community group formed in 2005 who reviewed trustee compensation and the method by which it should be determined going forward – instead of having trustees being tasked with setting their own pay rates on a yearly basis.
The calculation, secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick told the board, is based on the average of what is paid to school trustees across all the school districts on the Island, adjusted for projected student enrolment within SD72 itself.
And so each April, the board finds out what they will be paid beginning in July of that year.
The formula sets SD72 trustee remuneration at the median remuneration of all other Island school districts.
This number is found, in part, by calculating the “per-student” compensation given to all trustees across the Island.
Based on the announced remuneration for next year, the remuneration for a non-chair or vice-chair in SD72, with a projected enrolment of 5,367, will be approximately $2.13 per student.
For comparison, based on the numbers presented by the secretary-treasurer at the meeting, non-chair or vice-chair trustees in the Alberni School District (SD70), with an enrolment of about 3,700, earn $2.70 per student, while trustees in the Comox School District (SD71), with a student population of 7,522 are paid at a rate of $1.60 per student enrolled using that calculation.
The use of the formula, the board says, relieves the pressure of having to come up with a fair rate of compensation for their own time and effort.
“It’s hard to give yourself a raise, especially when you’re always having to look for cuts to be made,” says trustee Darryl Hagen, and this formula takes that struggle, along with the “public perception” aspect of voting yourself a raise on the public dime out of the equation.
“It’s just something automatic,” he said, “and makes it so we don’t have to wrestle with ourselves.”
Secretary-treasurer Kevin Patrick agrees with the formulaic model taking the pressure off the board to determine their own compensation.
It also helps create parity between districts, which he says is a good thing.
“Some boards, for a while, were getting $5,000 while the one next door that was the same size was getting $15,000,” Patrick says. “By having a model like this, it’s not just subject to, potentially, the board of the day, it’s consistent, it’s comparable, it’s fair and it’s defendable.”
And he notes that it doesn’t always work in the board’s favour.
“There have been years when it actually did go down,” Patrick says.
Next year, however, the board chair will see an increase of $609, the vice chair will receive an increase of $482 and other trustees’ remuneration will go up by $378.